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 Real Life Stories

Family Scholars Program Provides a National Perspective

By Lisa Wilson
Parents Let’s Unite for Kids

Through my participation in the Family Scholars Program, I learned how the maternal and child health system, including Title V is administered. I gained valuable access to AMCHP resources and the experience of other MCH leaders, including the inspiring family leaders in my cohort. By realizing a national perspective, I also realized new local perspective and began to truly understand how the system in Montana functioned, allowing me to seize opportunities to take a leadership role in developing programs and supports for CYSHCN.

As a member of our Medical Home Advisory Council in Montana, I found myself disillusioned with the state of Pediatric Medical Home implementation in our state. I began to formulate a program to implement family-centered pediatric medical homes in Montana. As a Family Scholar, I felt a responsibility to take a leadership role in designing and implementing the program. With the continuing encouragement of my mentor, I was able to network with several other support organizations and a project started to take shape.

I used the AMCHP best practices and Innovation Station website to research the Pediatric Practice Enhancement Project (PPEP) project from Rhode Island. In an attempt to expand my leadership role, I wrote and submitted a grant to AMCHP for technical assistance to model our new medical home program after PPEP, which our program was awarded. In March of 2013, myself and a team of six other people, traveled to Rhode Island for a technical assistance (TA) site visit. The TA afforded us valuable implementation materials, training and accelerated the professional development and education of the new Parent Partners.

With the inclusive vision of parents as equal professionals in public health, I felt ready to approach others as a professional. Montana did not have any interdisciplinary neurodevelopmental clinics at our medical centers and families often complained about needing to wait six to 12 months to be seen at the autism clinic more than eight hours away. I worked with my Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND) coordinator and Title V specialty clinic to facilitate meetings aimed at creating such a clinic in Montana. While at the AMCHP conference, I learned about regional MCH TA grants available for states to replicate each other’s best practices and thought it might be a way for the providers in Montana who needed help building an interdisciplinary clinic to visit a private, profitable clinic staffed with Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) graduates in our region who had been providing phone TA with the help of URLEND. Through AMCHP, I was able to find out which regional MCH professional I should talk with about the grant and eventually ended up working with someone at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to decide that it was a good use of funding. I completed the application and my Title V director submitted it for us. We received the MCH TA grant and the clinic in Idaho has agreed to share all of their billing models, intake forms, and approach to care along with the site visit. We expect the clinic in Montana to begin in August and to be privately profitable, requiring no additional ongoing public support.

In addition to these exciting projects, the training and education provided by AMCHP allowed me to advance my systems knowledge and understanding of my role as a leader. With this new breadth of understanding, my role within my organization grew. Along with my professional growth, our organization has grown. We have new statewide and regional partnerships, additional funding, more employees, and are developing more parents as leaders. My participation in the Family Scholars Program had a real and positive impact on myself, my organization, and many other families in my state.